The first, from Front Porch Republic, is entitled "The Culture of Hospitality" and talks about the failure of the "culture war" and the more realistic goal of cultural "engagement." Christians will recognize the idea of being in the world but not of it. The author quotes from a letter by a second century Christian talking about the challenge of living among pagans: He observes that "they [the Christians] marry, as do all [others]; they beget children but they do not destroy their offspring. They have a common table, but not a common bed." The author of the article, Mark Mitchell, writes:
The phrase I want to focus on is this: “they have a common table, but not a common bed.” Of course, the author is describing the lifestyle of the early Christian community, who were known for sharing meals with each other. They were also known for the limits they recognized: they were exclusive sexually even as they were promiscuous in their hospitality.
The emphasis here is the practice of hospitality (with obvious limits), and I want to suggest that hospitality is a radical alternative to both the language and practice of culture wars.There is much more good stuff at the link if you want to continue reading it.
The second article is by Cal Thomas. A good portion of it reviews some of those things many of us find to be very discouraging about the changing face of the country as manifested in last week's election result. I won't rehash that part. But Thomas ends with this encouragement:
Now some advice for my distraught conservative evangelical friends. You made a valiant effort for the last three decades, hoping politics would advance another Kingdom, which your Leader said is "not of this world." Don't retreat; enlist in a better army with better weapons.
The One you follow demonstrated a power superior to the state, the power to change lives. Employ that power. Each church and religious institution, each individual, can find one poor family and ask if they want out of their circumstances and are willing to work for it, if a path is offered. One example: If a parent wants a child out of a failing public school, offer them financial help in placing the child in a good private school.
Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting prisoners, and caring for widows and orphans is not a social gospel that replaces God with government. That's the view of the religious Left. Rather, these behaviors serve the ultimate purpose of reaching the heart where real change takes place. And enough changed hearts lead to changed cultures.
The government beast is starved when people become independent of it. This will require a transfer of faith in government, to faith in an Authority higher than the state and a Leader more powerful than any president.
Finally, a column from Laissez Faire Books that asks, "Are These the End Times?" (Thanks to Pastor Beane for the link.) Again, I'll skip the discussion of whether the answer to that question is yes or no (the author, Jeffrey Tucker, is more optimistic than I have felt lately). I appreciated the conclusion to the article, in which Tucker quotes another writer, Russ Roberts:
Remember that politics is not where life happens. Policies affect our lives, but we have much to do outside that world. Yesterday, I helped my youngest son learn Python, learned some Talmud, played with my photographs on Lightroom, had dinner with my wife, and went shopping with my oldest son for his first nice blazer. Lots of satisfactions there. Nothing to do with politics.
Put Tuesday night behind you for a while. Remember what matters. Take a walk. Read to your kids. Go out for dinner with your spouse. Read more Adam Smith and less of the Drudge Report. And smile at your neighbor. That’s always a good idea. But there’s a bonus — it might help your neighbor imagine that someone who believes in leaving things alone when it comes to the coercive power of government might actually be a decent person after all. And then maybe he’ll be a little more open to those crazy ideas you talked about at that dinner party.
Amen. Ora et labora. And have a nice day. We have such abundance, such blessing, such beauty at our fingertips, so many people to enjoy and love. Let's get busy.